The 2012 MLB Season doesn’t officially begin until later this week, but one of the game’s top relief pitchers is feared to be out for the entire season already. Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain, one of the best young pitchers in baseball, was playing with his son on a trampoline Thursday afternoon when he suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle in a gruesome scene where onlookers were worried that he might bleed to death. According to the New York Daily News, Chamberlain lost a significant amount of blood and was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he had surgery on Thursday night and was expected to stay in the hospital for several days to recover from the injury. Chamberlain was released on Sunday after undergoing successful surgery.
This is not the first major setback for Mr. Chamberlain since his Major League debut in August 2007. In August 2008 Chamberlain was first placed on the disabled list with rotator cuff tendonitis, and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman later acknowledged that this injury did have a lasting effect beyond the time he was sidelined. Chamberlain stayed relatively healthy between 2009 and 2010, but towards the middle of the 2011 season he was once again placed on the disabled list in June, and later had Tommy John Surgery performed to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow. Chamberlain has battled back from that injury and was working hard to get back on the field in those pinstripes, but now it does not look that will happen in the 2012 calendar year. This injury is also extremely unfortunate for Mr. Chamberlain as in January of this year he just signed a 1-year non-guaranteed contract worth about $1,675,000 and while the Yankees probably will not release Chamberlain they may decide to try to recoup some of that money owed to him.
What does this injury mean to baseball and the Yankees? Well most importantly the Yankees will need to find a new set-up man to bridge the gap between the starting rotation and the great Mariano Rivera at the back end of the bullpen. Currently the Yankees have Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Dellin Betances, and George Kontos to choose from to fill the gap left with Chamberlain’s absence. It would not surprise me in the least if Brian Cashman and company decide to make a play for another established reliever at the end of that bullpen. This is probably the last season in the legendary career of Mariano Rivera and it would be a shame for the Yankees to not have a set-up man who can consistently hold leads and give him the many save chances that he has been accustomed to over the course of his career. No matter how it plays out the Yankees have already been bitten by that pesky injury bug and the games don’t even count yet.